The Thai military have shown little concern for human rights since seizing power in 2014. Source: Flickr
Shortly ahead of the briefing was due to start at a Bangkok hotel, police officers warned that two representatives of the group would breach Thai labour law if they spoke publicly, one of the employees, Yuval Ginbar, said. Amnesty immediately cancelled the briefing.
Ginbar, who has a British passport, said it was not clear how he would have been in violation of the law. Both he and his Indonesian colleague said they had business visas.
“I think it’s a façade for trying to shut us up,” Ginbar said, adding that a UN representative was also due to speak.
Amnesty’s report said the Thai authorities routinely tortured or abused political opponents, migrants, suspected insurgents and others and issued several orders that restricted human rights.
“Thailand may claim to be tough on torture, but actions speak louder than words. Empowered by laws of their own making, Thailand’s military rulers have allowed a culture of torture to flourish, where there is no accountability for the perpetrators and no justice for the victims,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty’s regional director.
The Amnesty report documented 74 cases of alleged torture or “ill treatment”, including beating, burning, strangling, suffocation with plastic bags, waterboarding, electric shock to the genitals and various forms of humiliation.
Soon after the May 2014 coup, “Tul”, not his real name, said he was arrested by the army and held for seven days at an unnamed centre, repeatedly tortured and severely beaten.
“They put a plastic bag on my head until I fainted, and then poured a bucket of cold water on me,” he told Amnesty. “They applied electro-shock to my penis and chest. I was restrained, my legs tied and my face covered with tape and a plastic bag.”
After “the worst day” of his detention, “Tul” appealed to his captors for death. “Please shoot me and send my corpse to my family,” he reportedly asked.
The report said the Thai penal code did not define torture as a criminal offence or prohibit courts from using evidence obtained through torture. It said that the junta’s orders had overridden Thai laws that guaranteed legal counsel for those in custody and required prosecutors to bring them to court within two days of arrest.
The rights NGO said the report was based on 57 interviews with alleged detainees and 19 with their relatives or lawyers, and victims’ letters, court documentation and medical records.